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Bonzer Words!: College Days 1939-41

Peggy Blakeley recalls her wartime college days.

Peggy writes for Bonzer! magazine. Please visit www.bonzer.org.au

I still remember . . .

Air raid sirens, ominous and scary and then that blessed - ALL CLEAR!

Endless dried egg, oily pilchards, oilier sardines and the dread SPAM.

My 'real egg' ration was one egg per week—often rotten!

The College badge, a surrealist- looking stork and the motto 'MORE LIFE AND FULLER' which we found hilarious and equated with gooseberry bushes - and such!

THE CHUTE - a thick canvas 'tube' attached to an upstairs window which we had to practise sliding down - in case of an emergency. Great fun that, especially when we practised in the night, and half asleep.

If we had spent some of the night in the Air Raid Shelter, the Principal would cancel the first of our afternoon lectures and ORDER us to 'have a nap'.

Since pubs were 'out of bounds' for us students we often imbibed weak coffee in 'The Temp' (Temperance Hotel). This was good for its trade as it attracted the extra custom of the many R.A.F. lads who dropped in, hoping to 'pull' as so often they did!

Each First Year student had a 'college mother' and I had Stella who acted as my guide and mentor and helped me to settle in. I also made a new 'best friend', Bett, who came from 'oop North', as I did.

Finally, on a warm July evening in 1941 at the 'farewell party' for us leavers we chanted- for the last time -

'No more Maths and no more Art
No more lectures from Pattie Chart' -

our good natured 'spat' at student life, and our lecturers. Then, after we had toasted one another with - LEMONADE! it was—'and so to bed'.

But the next morning having said a fond farewell to friends and to the trials and tribulations of College life in war-time, I headed home —a fully qualified Primary School teacher raring to go, and to earn some 'dough' at long last.

And of course I carried, as indeed did we all, the Ration Book, the Gas Mask and the Identity Card (with my number DCKH 452)—little knowing that four more long war years still lay ahead.

© Peggy Blakeley


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